Conceptual Art Project
Amy Callahan, Math, High Tech High
When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and
decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea
becomes a machine that makes the art.
—Sol LeWitt, conceptual artist
Each student designed a unique art piece using a set of mathematical concepts.
Students then followed their own directions to create their piece on a canvas. The
class then chose 11 of these pieces to enlarge on the wall, demonstrating that in
conceptual art, the original artist need not be the one to execute the piece. By
following their classmates’ instructions and images, the students were able to realize
perfectly their classmates’ concepts.
I had three main goals for my students: to strengthen their ability to explain their
mathematical thinking, to practice math concepts they had learned so far, and to
gain exposure to a new art form. While creating a design was somewhat challenging,
students struggled most with composing clear directions for their designs. It took
many drafts to make directions that were clear, concise and correct. This was a great
exercise in proof: how could they know that their directions would produce exactly
their design if followed by someone else? It was a nice surprise just how rigorous this
component of the project became.
My partner and I created a piece called “Tree of Lines,” using simple lines and
angles to create a tree. The concept was simple, but if someone else were to re-create
our piece it might be harder than it looks. I learned that math can be explained
through many different forms and concepts. Through art it was more exciting, yet
still challenging. Having someone else re-create our art on a wall instead of seeing it
on a small canvas definitely made us very proud of our work.
—Yleana Cueva, 11th grade
To learn more, visit www.hightechhigh.org and Amy Callahan’s digital portfolio